When Printing Makes Sense – Mystical Principles Applied to Business
Our economic system has a shadow: success is almost exclusively oriented towards profit or loss – regardless of whether it was achieved at the expense of people, animals, or the environment, i.e. the common good. A mirror of ourselves? Our self-centeredness, the pursuit of our own advantage? Our feeling of not being connected? – Ernst Gugler
Ernst Gugler, printing and communication entrepreneur from Austria, participated in the Timeless Wisdom Training with Thomas Hübl from 2014 – 2017. How did this intensive spiritual learning process affect his role as the head of a communication company with 120 employees? The company was already socially-oriented, and through the training, Ernst received new inspiration to put into practice.
Ernst was particularly moved by the mystical principle of leaving no trace. This states that your life arises from the unformed, you express yourself completely, and then enter completely back into the unformed. After your incarnation you leave no trace, no remaining energy. You have led your complete energy back into God.
“Put things in order before they exist.” This favorite sentence of Thomas from verse 64 of the Tao Te Ching has also had a deep effect on Ernst.
What changes has Ernst implemented within his company since the training?
Leave No Trace
It has been a challenge for Ernst to implement this principle in his company.
Their corporate culture is characterized by mindfulness and lived sustainability. The attitude of being oriented to the common good has been anchored in the company’s DNA since its founding. They strive not to harm people, animals, or the environment, but to be of benefit to them. “Establishing a reconnection with creation is our mission.”
On the material level, this corresponds to the “Cradle to Cradle” (C2C) circular economy concept. The conventional production principle is: Take – Make – Waste. Raw materials are taken from nature, and products are made from them. After their service life, they are disposed of and waste is produced. However, the extraction of raw materials from nature is finite, and the littering of our planet is progressing. Already today, we consume more resources than the earth can restore. This principle is increasingly reaching its limits, as we are now witnessing in the form of environmental and energy crises, garbage islands, and climate change.
The idea of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is to feed products as completely as possible into cycles for reuse. As the cycles in nature show us, waste is food. A tree does not produce waste with its falling leaves, but food for the organisms. This means that products must be designed before their production begins so that everything can flow back into biological or technical cycles at the end of their life cycles. No residue remains.
“Gugler* DruckSinn” was the first print shop in the world to offer C2C-certified print products, a revolution for the environment and the printing industry. Only what is harmless to humans, animals, and the environment finds its way into the production processes. Printing inks pose a particular challenge here, as their composition is often critical and manufacturers generally keep them secret. But with a C2C-certified product, all the ingredients are known and harmless.
Especially in the case of children’s books, it is crucial not to use any carcinogenic or other harmful substances, since young children often put their books in their mouths.
You might think that all this is much more expensive for the customer who has something printed here. But that is not the case. Ernst and his team manage to keep prices only slightly above the level of conventionally printed items.
Presence: Work Serves Life, Not the Other Way Around
We’ve all seen industrial wastelands on the outskirts of cities. People plunge into unsecured, inhospitable, windowless halls to work in production processes, from which they then emerge after eight hours, usually stressed, to enter leisure time, “real life”.
But working time is time from one’s life. Therefore, it is Ernsts mission to provide a people-friendly and development-friendly environment in his company. “People are a valuable resource,” human dignity in the workplace is a high priority. The limits and speed of each individual in their development are respected. Nothing is mandatory. For example, a quiet space for employees to meditate.
There is an employee restaurant with vegetarian and vegan food. The vegetables are grown organically in the company’s own garden, and the food is freshly cooked every day.
The two green buildings are designed according to building biology principles, with partly-green roofs. The new building, constructed in 2017, is a recyclable, plus-energy building. Employees can book free coaching and therapy sessions. Free yoga is offered, and an alternative-nature kindergarten is currently in the planning stages.
More Open Communication
The Timeless Wisdom Training has inspired Ernst to handle his role as the leader of 120 people differently. He is relatively open with his feelings, and where appropriate, there is the occasional hug. “I really like to hug our cleaning lady as an example!” Of course, he is sensitive to the boundaries of the other person, which has been refined through the training. And he notices that this kind of relationship quality is very much appreciated by the employees.
The communication and meeting culture is based on mindfulness and respect. Meetings often begin with a minute of silence. Employee management is focused on personal development. Employees are involved in important decisions. Since 2022, work has been underway to introduce a corporate organization to increase resilience. Strategic goals are defined via OKR process (Objectives and Key Results, a framework for setting company-wide strategic goals.) A holocratic organizational structure is emerging. There is a focus on increasing employee involvement through bottom-up methods.
Ernst is committed to continually developing himself and his communication skills. For example, he recently completed a training in dance and movement, and is currently studying Tibetan Buddhism.
Enduring Uncertain Times
With increasing awareness of environmental and climate issues, the demand for printing methods such as those offered by “Gugler* DruckSinn” is growing. Publishers in particular are seeing an increasing demand from consumers for printed products where form and content match. For a book about environmental issues, it is almost a must that it is also printed in an environmentally friendly way.
Despite expanding acceptance and increased demand, print orders dropped during the pandemic. Certain papers were suddenly no longer available, and others only at a much higher price. And of course, rising energy prices now pose a huge challenge. To survive as a service-oriented company in a market ruled by price wars is a constant challenge. These sustainability services have so far been freestyle and are not yet fully supported by the market.
In training with Thomas, however, Ernst has learned to deal with uncertainty. Remaining confident and not knowing what will be in two months’ time is now working reasonably well for him. Ernst sees the current chaos on all levels as an expression of an awakening energy.
He is now able to set the sails correctly when the winds of change pick up speed.
The company began in 1989 with printing and design. Today it consists of three business divisions:
*gugler* DruckSinn – print shop with Cradle to Cradle print products
*gugler* MarkenSinn – agency for tomorrow’s brands, with a focus on sustainable communication and green branding
*gugler* SinnBildung – accompanies people in companies and organizations in their reorientation towards an economy that is fit for the future, be it in the direction of climate neutrality, in the change of values and culture, or in change processes oriented towards the common good.
All three units have the task of supporting or accompanying customers in their own sustainability efforts – both internally and externally.
Please note: the company’s web pages are in German. The Chrome browser, for example, includes a one-click translation function into English (and other languages).
Report: Ina Krause